September state revenues beat target
by Prokopis Hatzinikolaou,, 4 October 2016

The growing use of plastic money, combined with the increased value-added tax takings and the decision of more people to pay this year's Single Property Tax (ENFIA) in a lump sum sent the budget's net revenues soaring in September, which even came as a surprise to the Finance Ministry, which released the data on Tuesday.

The revenues after last month's tax returns beat the target set in the budget by 840 million euros, while the target for the first nine months of the year was exceeded by 1.062 billion euros.

It is possible that had the government brought forward its planned bill to force Greeks to make almost all of their transactions electronic, the revenues would have been far greater as tax evasion would have been contained further. At the same time time the country's creditors would have not asked for additional taxes of 2.5 billion euros for next year.

Bank figures show that credit and debit card transactions have this year increased by 50 percent from 2015. This has led to a rise in VAT takings as most enterprises are now forced to issue receipts upon payment.

A large number of Greeks opted to pay their ENFIA in a lump sum last month, either in cash or with cards. Bank sources say that tax payments via credit cards have increased 30-40 percent from last year. The rise in revenues is also attributed to the state's offsetting of income tax rebates with payments for ENFIA.

Another factor that helped revenues was the increased number of tax inspections at Greek tourism destinations in August, which led to enterprises paying more value-added tax in September. Large companies pay their VAT the month after issuing their receipts and smaller companies pay it every quarter. This means that in October takings will also be increased.

The final factor that contributed toward soaring revenues in September was the hike in the top VAT bracket from 23 to 24 percent, which went into force on June 1.